A campaign to get us talking more and differently to babies and young children

What is Talking Matters?

Talking Matters is a campaign to put early talk at the top of the agenda for child wellbeing and education.

At present, most early language initiatives focus on ages 3-5 and on school readiness and reading.  Early, responsive talk for ages 0-3 is the missing piece in early childhood education. 

We want to change that at all levels - for government and policy, for service providers, and for parents and families. 

Why Talking Matters

Talking is particularly important in the first 1000 days when children's brains are forming. 

It's the back and forth, responsive communication that sets them up for success in education and in life.

Talk is important in whatever languages families use – it doesn’t have to be in English. 

First Network Meeting for 2019

Come and have your say to help shape a Talking Matters submission on the Early Learning Strategic Plan. 

Friday, 22nd February, 9 am - 12 noon
Kohia Centre, Gate 2, 78 Epsom Ave

Read our latest Newsletter

December 2018 - We want to share some of the highlights of Talking Matters 2018.   

It’s been a great year and we are delighted with how many communities and organisations are interested in collaborating with Talking Matters. Read more 

Why Talking Matters in the First 1000 Days

16 October, 2018 - Talking Matters director Alison Sutton presented at the NEXT Foundation annual breakfast in Wellington.

Read more & watch our videos on the Impact of Talking Matters on parents, teachers and communities


Explore New Territories: Reflections from the ZERO to THREE Conference, Denver

I joined 3,400 practitioners, researchers and policy makers from 13 countries at the Zero to Three Conference in Denver in early October to get some international perspectives.   Zero to Three is aRead more

Talking to babies is everybody's business

There's been a bit of media attention about early language over the last couple of weeks, which is good to see. The evidence is clear – talking is vital for infants wellbeing. The quality and qualiRead more

The real adventure begins now

I promised a second blog to share what I learnt in San Francisco and outline how we might use these insights. In my previous post I talked about 'getting clear' in what we want to achieve. ThatRead more

Getting clear in fog city

I have just returned from a 10 day trip to San Francisco, presenting at the prestigious Carnegie Foundation Summit on Improvement in Education. Educators from around the world were impressedRead more

The Intersection of culture and talk

The March Talking Matters network meeting was particularly powerful because it focused on the intersection of culture and talk. Rae Si'ilata spoke about Wantok Talanoa. We can develop fluency byRead more

Weaving oral language into family literacy

In February 2017, we began working alongside 10 tertiary tutors who teach more than 120 adults in a family literacy programme Whānau Ara Mua, a Certificate in Intergenerational Learning - throughRead more

Measuring talk at home

Very small children develop their early language at home. In order to find out more about talking to children at home, project manager Emma Quigan has been working with a small group of parents andRead more

Akaaka Kōrero

Talking Matters' first community project started in February, with 13 community organisations that connect with families in Māngere-Ōtāhuhu. The collaborative has called itself Akaaka Kōrero.Read more

Why I changed focus from adult education to toddlers’ talk

Alison Sutton is the Director of Talking Matters. Alison describes the journey that led her to start a campaign aimed at encouraging talking more and talking different with small children. ForRead more

Tāmaki Toddlers Day out

Back in early December, we took Talking Matters to the Tāmaki Toddlers' Day Out. We spoke informally with parents about the importance of talk, and how it builds babies' brains. We shared howRead more

Talk over summer

The top take away ideas from the November network meeting were about finding ways to promote talking and reading over summer. David Tucker from Pt. Chevalier Library shared the idea of an empty boRead more

The kick off

The early years – especially the first 1000 days – are critical in a child's development, "says Talking Matters director Alison Sutton. "Eighty per cent of the brain develops in these first threeRead more
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The Talking Matters challenge

Early language is an equity issue.

Some children are starting at school with language and communication skills more typical of three-year-olds. 

Early language is a key contributor to the achievement gap between poorer and more affluent families.  

Van Hees, J. (2011). "The expressive realities of five-and six-year old students in Year 1 and 2 classes in low-socio-economic schools." SET 43: 47-54

Van Hees, J. (2011). "The expressive realities of five-and six-year old students in Year 1 and 2 classes in low-socio-economic schools." SET 43: 47-54

Everyone can be a part of Talking Matters

How would you like to make sure Talking Matters? Join us: 

  • Advocating for changes to policy, laws and funding  
  • Supporting parent-led community action  
  • Developing and sharing tools, resources and strategies  
  • Building capability in education, health and family services

Read more


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